There were times in Pakistan, when only PTV used to be the center of the attraction for the audiences. Content of every single program was educated and properly analyzed. 9 pm bulletin was the signals for kids that it’s time for their bed. At least it always represented itself as a national channel of an Islamic Republic and somehow it still does. There were some high times in Zia era when even music was not allowed in Ramazan and female news representatives were strictly instructed to cover their heads.

The television culture took a huge shift in last decade or so with a never ending flurry of private channels. Many Political analysts think that after judiciary, executive and legislature, media is fourth pillar of the state. After reviewing some recent unpleasant incidents regarding interplay of power between media and executive, one tends to believe what analysts think, yes media is fourth pillar of state now.

This fourth pillar of the state is influencing every sphere of life of almost every Pakistani with plethora of programs and they are not leaving religion unattended. In recent times, Ramazan in Pakistan is never like before. The most famous religious scholars, most famous anchors with no restriction of their genre, most famous actors and even singers have concentrated all their attention and energy towards the Ramazan transmissions on different television channels. In fact, last year, one of the most controversial female celebrities of Pakistan, Veen Malik who was accused of being too bold in an Indian reality show earlier that year, ended up hosting a Ramazan transmission later under the banner of one of the biggest media houses of Pakistan.  This gives a grim picture of mentality of producers of such transmissions.

Ramazan teaches us simplicity; the sets which are used in such transmissions worth millions are not simple by any means. Ramazan teaches us about inclusiveness, but a criterion of participation in such transmissions is extremely exclusive. First you have to call many times and after a long wait, if you are lucky you can make it up to the “lucky draw” but you have to be truly blessed if you want to be a part of this spiritual Ramazan show. Ramazan teaches us about controlling your instincts, and anchors don’t miss any chance to provoke the instincts of the participants. With different gifts in their hand, when they reach the audiences, without the restriction of age and gender, almost everyone starts jumping above their seats. Ramazan teaches us to think, but the only thing on the minds of the participants is the gift voucher.

Ramazan transmissions can be bashed all day along on many moral and religious grounds but nevertheless they are top grossing TV shows in the country. The supply increases only when demand does. Every other producer is financing in such Ramazan-cum- entertainment shows because people want to participate in these shows and watch them back home. The house hold women are the biggest fans of such shows because they are the most orthodox followers of religion and want to maintain a certain spiritual atmosphere in their homes which is readily provided by the holy transmissions. Such transmissions, sugar coated with religion, are sold to the public, targeting their affinity for the doctrine. TV channels sell what is more likely to be traded off and in Ramzan, as everyone’s devoted more towards religion compared to any other month of the year, they see religious transmissions as a major selling commodity. The best quality Naat Khwans, those who keep roaming around channel to channel, and renowned religious scholars which keep discussing the different aspects of the holy month make sure that the “Islamic spirit” does not rule out from the whole equation. Summer Ramazans with shorter nights provide a perfect platform for the producers to run transmission which start around iftar and goes till sehri with little breaks.

The format of Ramazan transmissions became so famous last year that producers decided to extend those under the different titles such as “Nilam Ghar” and “Jeeto Pakistan” hosted by Aamir Liaqut Ali and Fahad Mustafa respectively.  

Ramzan Transmissions got every essential ingredient which a television show requires for a “hit” but unfortunately they lack intent. There is so much corporate business involved that transmission portrays as a show room where different companies showcase and promote their products. A culture of sensational Islam is being promoted but TV channels are not the sole responsible for that. In fact this culture was always there. We decorate mosques and building, we celebrate Eids with extravaganza, we attend melads and mehfils, we perform hajj regularly but somewhere down the road we all lack intent and true religious spirit which has transcended into such transmissions.